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Reds pay up to bring McGree home

Soccer

Adelaide United’s owners have splashed the cash to bring home Riley McGree.

 

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InDaily understands that this is the first time in Adelaide United’s history that it will have paid a transfer fee for a player.

Respected football website TransferMarkt lists McGree’s value at $1 million.

United has purchased McGree from Belgium top flight team Club Brugge KV – who bought the youngster from Adelaide United for a nominal fee in July 2017.

Like most A-League clubs, United has almost exclusively depended on loans, free transfers and free agents to fill its squad.

Transfers between A-League clubs is prohibited by competition rules but that doesn’t stop A-league clubs purchasing players from overseas, or from Australian teams who don’t compete in the top tier.

Whilst there have been a few examples of clubs paying a transfer fee for players – Carlos Hernandez for Melbourne Victory and Stefan Mauk for Brisbane Roar – it is still very rare in the A-League.

Today’s announcement is another huge signal of intent from the Adelaide owners, who have brought back club favourites Eugene Galekovic, Bruce Djite and Carl Veart as part of the backroom set-up at the club.

Riley McGree, who made his A-League debut with the Reds in 2016 and is from Gawler, will be unveiled by United later this afternoon.

The 20-year-old can play anywhere in central midfield and was even deployed as a wide-forward last year by Warren Joyce at Melbourne City.

United has several wingers on its books so it is probable that he will play centrally – either as an attacking midfielder, or, more likely, slightly deeper in partnership with Mirko Boland.

Whilst McGree made his debut in the 15/16 season, it was the shortest of cameos, playing one minute against Western Sydney Wanderers in Adelaide’s Premiership/Championship campaign.

He was United’s shining light the following season – one which saw the Reds’ struggle.

He scored his first goal for United against the Wellington Phoenix on 29 January, and scored against Korea’s Jeju United  in the Asian Champions League.

McGree had two loan stints back in Australia after being bought by Club Brugge.

In January 2018, he signed for the Newcastle Jets and was nominated for the Puskás Award for his goal in the semi-final against Melbourne City.

Newcastle lost the Championship the following week against Melbourne Victory, when the VAR system failed and allowed a Victory goal that was clearly offside.

Last season, McGree was loaned to Melbourne City. He made 30 appearances in all competitions, scoring eight goals and creating four.

He has been capped for the U17 and U23 Australian teams and was called up to the Socceroo squad by former coach Ange Postecoglou, but never made his debut.

McGree is a product of local club Gawler Eagles, who play in the third tier of South Australia’s local football pyramid. They also developed Ben Warland, a former Red who now plays for Sydney FC and Lachlan Brook, a talented youngster currently playing for Adelaide United.

McGree’s signing takes Adelaide United’s squad to 20 players (17 full-time contracts, three scholarship contracts) and is the first player signed under new manager Gertjan Verbeek’s reign.

The Reds have paid development fees to local clubs for young players it has signed for its A-League team.

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